(photo credit: Courtesy)
Just a month after rocket shrapnel splashed into a Rehovot community center pool, the waters were filled with happy swimmers on Tuesday afternoon.
Halfway through the latest 72-hour cease-fire, the residents of this city on the edge of the South were going about their normal routines.
Among the worst offenses were children throwing beach balls and paddling into a lane designated for serious swimmers.
“Look at how many kids there are,” said one of the lifeguards at the pool.
Still, a sign remained posted outside the community center pool reminding visitors they must seek shelter in the locker rooms should a siren sound.
There may be no sirens in Rehovot during the temporary cease-fire – and there have not been any since moments before the beginning of the previous 72-hour cease-fire, last Tuesday morning – but the residents are hesitant to take too many risks. Along these lines, the lifeguard explained, the three-times-a- week nighttime swim sessions are still canceled, even during the current cease-fire.
“We don’t have anyone to trust,” he told The Jerusalem Post
. “They break the cease-fires all the time.”
While a far cry from the seemingly constant rocket-fire endured by the Gazan perimeter communities or Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheba, residents of Rehovot – about 50 kilometers north of Gaza – received about two to three sirens daily during the height of the conflict.
On July 10, shrapnel from an overhead Iron Dome interception landed on this community center’s tennis courts and smashed into a poolside pole just three meters from a lifeguard and child, ricocheting into the water.
The lifeguard on duty Tuesday – a different guard than the one who narrowly avoided shrapnel impact – said he was happy to see an increased presence of swimmers in recent days. If the cease-fire is broken when the 72 hours ends overnight on Wednesday, the lifeguard predicted a much different scene.
“The pool will be empty, unfortunately,” he said.
Nonetheless, the lifeguard stressed that it was important for residents to continue to go about their routines, in order to prevent the economic damage that has injured the South.
“[The IDF] is doing their work and we must do ours, take care of a strong home front,” he said.
In one of the kiddie pools adjacent to the larger facility, two grandmothers sat in lawn chairs and watched their grandchildren splash about the shallow waters.
Since the kindergartens are closed for the time being and a cease-fire is currently holding, they said they are enjoy bringing the children to the pool.
“When there isn’t a cease-fire we keep them at home,” one grandmother said. “We are afraid. So we are exploiting the cease-fire now.”
Asked if she felt the quiet could continue on Thursday, she responded that “with Hamas, it is impossible to know.”
“We don’t even know if they will continue this cease-fire,” she said.
Due to the minimal amount of sheltered space in the poolside area, the grandmothers emphasized that they would not continue to bring their grandchildren there if cease-fire conditions do not persist.
“How do we take responsibility for children?” the second grandmother added.